Newsmakers

APPOINTED: Congress’s crisis manager, Ghulam Nabi Azad, was appointed a minister by Dr Manmohan Singh. A Rajya Sabha member from J&K, he returns to the union cabinet after his three-year stint as J&K chief minister. Part of many Congress governments ever since his arrival 1980s in New Delhi, Azad has also held key party positions including general secretary for a record nine times, he has been a member of the Congress Working Committee for 18 years – one of the longest among the present generation of Congress leaders.

RECORD: A record number of 39,362 candidates are appearing for the preliminary test of J&K Combined Competitive Services Examination (CCSE) for 398 posts. The prelims would conclude on Sunday, May 24.

RELEASED: Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah was released after nine months of detention. Detained under Public Safety Act on August 22 during the peak days of agitation in 2008, Shah was accused of conspiring to kill his erstwhile colleague Sheikh Abdul Aziz. Both of them were in the forefront of the massive procession that had marched towards LoC on August 11, 2008. Aziz was killed in police firing. After release, Shah said he will continue his efforts for reuniting the Hurriyat Conference.
REVISED: Owing to celebrations of Mela Kher Bhawani, polling for Hazrtbal assembly segment has been postponed and will now take place on June 3 instead of May 30. Counting of votes will take place on June 7. Meanwhile the Model Code of Conduct has ceased to be in operation, according to General Administration Department. However, it will continue in Srinagar district till the polling in Hazratbal is over.

ASSURED: Second time Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has told NC that Dr Farooq Abdullah will be inducted in the union cabinet in first expansion likely early next week. The issue had created friction in the alliance especially in wake of reports that had emanated from Srinagar that Dr Abdullah would be India’s new health, and later, tourism minister. A sulking Abdullah flew to South Africa for watching a T20 match. Though NC leaders maintained that the support to UPA was unconditional and that they are not begging for any berth, the anger was visible.

DISBURSED: J&K government ordered the release of additional installment of seven per cent Dearness Allowance (DA) in favour of the government pensioners/family pensioners with effect from July 01, 2008. Now the scale of DA hike has gone up from 47 per cent to 54 per cent and would benefit around 70,000 pensioners.
VISITED: Air Force chief Marshal Fali Homi Major visited IAF’s highest operational airbase of the world in Leh. Interestingly, he had commandeered this air base between September 20, 1999 to February 3, 2002. Off late, the IAF is repairing and renovating some of the almost abandoned air bases in the region which includes some airstrips which are very close to the Sino-Indian border.

SUSPENDED: Police placed under suspension a SOG inspector after the death of a civilian Manzoor Ahmed Beg in Srinagar. A car dealer, the inspector had ‘summoned’ him to settle a money dispute in a car deal between one of inspector’s relatives and Beg. The car dealer fell unconscious during the conversation and was declared dead at the hospital. Angry mobs came out on streets alleging police for his death.

RETURNED: Ghulam Hassan Khan, who won as an independent candidate from Ladakh returned to NC. He was provincial president of the party before the polls but contested independently after Congress refused to let NC field its own candidate. This created a lot of misunderstanding in the alliance with some of the Congress leaders accusing NC of disrespecting the coalition dharma. Many think Khan’s ‘home coming’ was instrumental in delaying Dr Abdullah’s induction in union cabinet. Interestingly, after joining back, Khan denied joining NC and said he would support UPA.

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